Why I’m considering removing blog comments

Many others before me have disabled their blog comments. In fact, a blog post by Seth Goden from 2006 still sticks in my mind and all the outcry it generated from around the web. The longer my blog has been around the worst the spam has gotten. In a way that kinda makes sense as my domain name gets shared via spammer databases and my growing number of blog post links get stored in search engine results.

Spam comments are awful. As of today, Askimet says it has blocked over 250,000 spam comments since March 2014. During the time it took to write this post I’ve already received 16 spam messages. For every single legitimate comment, I get 1,000 spam comments. Seriously. If managed improperly, spam comments can crash your blog if your hosting provider limits the size of your blog database.

This happened to me earlier in the year. Silly me, I thought that it would be impossible for me to go over my previous hosting providers pre-set 2 gigabyte database size limit any time soon. Most of my blog posts are text based and take up very little room. The entire size of my blog database was around 15 MBs. I didn’t even know there was a problem until I couldn’t create any more blog posts. Upon further examination I had received over 75,000 spam comments over a 30 day period and they were waiting patiently for deletion. I’m not exactly clear on why Askimet didn’t correctly report these, or automatically delete them within 15 days, or what exactly happened. One thing was clear: my comments table in the database was full of tens of thousands of spam comments. I thought I had set them for automatic deletion but apparently Askimet only auto-deletes the worst of the worst spam and everything else goes to the spam queue. Caveat Emptor.

I still think I see the value of comments in that everyone including me can benefit from the “shared” feedback including myself. But, the increasing amount of time and headaches spent dealing with spam is making me seriously reconsider.

Maximum Anti-spam Measures for WordPress

On my blog I’ve had to take what I consider maximum, or perhaps even extreme, measures to minimize spam. I use captcha’s, which I don’t particularly like, as well as mandatory approval for comments along with shutting off comments after 30 days. Oh, and I’ve also commented out the code that allows for trackbacks and pingbacks.  It was the combination of these measures that finally gave me some peace-of-mind.

Back during the month when I finally implemented all of these anti-spam methods I had received over 400 spam messages via various methods. It was filling up my mail box and getting really annoying. Mostly it was the time wasted while glancing at each message to weed out legitimate comments from junk before deleting it. Now I’m down to around six or so spam comment posts per month, and while this is still annoying is a much more manageable number.

I’ve gradually accepted that I won’t be able to completely eliminate spam (argh!). And, there are several downsides to this heavy handed approach. Now, every time I upgrade to a new version of WordPress I have to re-comment out the trackbacks and pingbacks PHP code. If I don’t, I start getting spam again within 24 hours. Also, if someone wants to post a legitimate comment after 30 days they won’t be able to.